Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feast Day: St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)

Photograph of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Sister Mary Faustina, an apostle of the Divine Mercy, belongs today to the group of the most popular and well-known saints of the Church. Through her the Lord Jesus communicates to the world the great message of God's mercy and reveals the pattern of Christian perfection based on trust in God and on the attitude of mercy toward one's neighbors.

She was born on
August 25, 1905 in G»ogowiec in Poland of a poor and religious family of peasants, the third of ten children. She was baptized with the name Helena in the parish Church ofÐwinice Warckie. From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of prayer, work, obedience, and also her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of nine she made her first Holy Communion living this moment very profoundly in her awareness of the presence of the Divine Guest within her soul. She attended school for three years. At the age of sixteen she left home and went to work as a housekeeper in Aleksandrów, ºódï and Ostrówek in order to find the means of supporting herself and of helping her parents.

At the age of seven she had already felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation. After finishing school, she wanted to enter the convent but her parents would not give her permission. Called during a vision of the Suffering Christ, on
August 1, 1925 she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name Sister Mary Faustina. She lived in the Congregation for thirteen years and lived in several religious houses. She spent time at Kraków, P»ock and Vilnius, where she worked as a cook, gardener and porter.

Externally nothing revealed her rich mystical interior life. She zealously performed her tasks and faithfully observed the rule of religious life. She was recollected and at the same time very natural, serene and full of kindness and disinterested love for her neighbor. Although her life was apparently insignificant, monotonous and dull, she hid within herself an extraordinary union with God.

It is the mystery of the Mercy of God which she contemplated in the word of God as well as in the everyday activities of her life that forms the basis of her spirituality. The process of contemplating and getting to know the mystery of God's mercy helped develop within Sr. Mary Faustina the attitude of child-like trust in God as well as mercy toward the neighbors. O my Jesus, each of Your saints reflects one of Your virtues; I desire to reflect Your compassionate heart, full of mercy; I want to glorify it. Let Your mercy, O Jesus, be impressed upon my heart and soul like a seal, and this will be my badge in this and the future life (Diary 1242). Sister Faustina was a faithful daughter of the Church which she loved like a Mother and a Mystic Body of Jesus Christ. Conscious of her role in the Church, she cooperated with God's mercy in the task of saving lost souls. At the specific request of and following the example of the Lord Jesus, she made a sacrifice of her own life for this very goal. In her spiritual life she also distinguished herself with a love of the Eucharist and a deep devotion to the Mother of Mercy.

The years she had spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as: revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, or the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage. The living relationship with God, the Blessed Mother, the Angels, the Saints, the souls in Purgatory — with the entire supernatural world — was as equally real for her as was the world she perceived with her senses. In spite of being so richly endowed with extraordinary graces, Sr. Mary Faustina knew that they do not in fact constitute sanctity. In her Diary she wrote: Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God (Diary 1107).

The Lord Jesus chose Sr. Mary Faustina as the Apostle and "Secretary" of His Mercy, so that she could tell the world about His great message. In the Old Covenant — He said to her —I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart (Diary 1588).

The mission of Sister Mary Faustina consists in 3 tasks:

– reminding the world of the truth of our faith revealed in the Holy Scripture about the merciful love of God toward every human being.

– Entreating God's mercy for the whole world and particularly for sinners, among others through the practice of new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy presented by the Lord Jesus, such as: the veneration of the image of the Divine Mercy with the inscription: Jesus, I Trust in You, the feast of the Divine Mercy celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, chaplet to the Divine Mercy and prayer at the Hour of Mercy (3 p.m.). The Lord Jesus attached great promises to the above forms of devotion, provided one entrusted one's life to God and practiced active love of one's neighbor.

– The third task in Sr. Mary Faustina's mission consists in initiating the apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy which undertakes the task of proclaiming and entreating God's mercy for the world and strives for Christian perfection, following the precepts laid down by the Blessed Sr. Mary Faustina. The precepts in question require the faithful to display an attitude of child-like trust in God which expresses itself in fulfilling His will, as well as in the attitude of mercy toward one's neighbors. Today, this movement within the Church involves millions of people throughout the world; it comprises religious congregations, lay institutes, religious, brotherhoods, associations, various communities of apostles of the Divine Mercy, as well as individual people who take up the tasks which the Lord Jesus communicated to them through Sr. Mary Faustina.

The mission of the Blessed Sr. Mary Faustina was recorded in her Diary which she kept at the specific request of the Lord Jesus and her confessors. In it, she recorded faithfully all of the Lord Jesus' wishes and also described the encounters between her soul and Him. Secretary of My most profound mystery — the Lord Jesus said toSr. Faustina — know that your task is to write down everything that I make known to you about My mercy, for the benefit of those who by reading these things will be comforted in their souls and will have the courage to approach Me (Diary 1693). In an extraordinary way, Sr. Mary Faustina's work sheds light on the mystery of the Divine Mercy. It delights not only the simple and uneducated people, but also scholars who look upon it as an additional source of theo-logical research. The Diary has been translated into many languages, among others, English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Hungarian, Czech and Slovak.

Sister Mary Faustina, consumed by tuberculosis and by innumerable sufferings which she accepted as a voluntary sacrifice for sinners, died in
Krakow at the age of just thirty three on October 5, 1938 with a reputation for spiritual maturity and a mystical union with God. The reputation of the holiness of her life grew as did the cult to the Divine Mercy and the graces she obtained from God through her intercession. In the years 1965-67, the investigative Process into her life and heroic virtues was undertaken in Krakow and in the year 1968, the Beatification Process was initiated in Rome. The latter came to an end in December 1992. On April 18, 1993 our Holy Father John Paul II raised Sister Faustina to the glory of the altars. Sr. Mary Faustina's remains rest at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Kraków-ºagiewniki.

Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska
Born25 August 1905
Głogowiec, Łęczyca County,Russian Empire
DiedOctober 5, 1938 (aged 33)
Kraków, Poland
Honored inRoman Catholic Church
Beatified18 April 1993
Canonized30 April 2000, Pope John Paul II
MajorshrineBasilica of Divine Mercy, Kraków, Poland
Feast5 October
PatronageWorld Youth Day


Four years after Faustina's beatification, Pope John Paul II visited the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy at Lagiewniki (near Krakow) and addressed members of her congregation. He said: “The message of divine mercy has always been very close and precious to me. It is as though history has written it in the tragic experience of World War II. In those difficult years, this message was a particular support and an inexhaustible source of hope, not only for those living in Krakow, but for the entire nation. This was also my personal experience, which I carried with me to the See of Peter and which, in a certain sense, forms the image of this pontificate. I thank divine providence because I was able to contribute personally to carrying out Christ's will, by instituting the feast of Divine Mercy. Here, close to the remains of Blessed Faustina, I thank God for the gift of her beatification. I pray unceasingly that God may have 'mercy on us and on the whole world' (Quote from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy).”


Devotion to God's Divine Mercy bears some resemblance to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In both cases, sinners are encouraged not to despair, not to doubt God's willingness to forgive them if they repent. As Psalm 136 says in each of its 26 verses, “God's love [mercy] endures forever.”

On February 22, 1931, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ appeared to this simple nun, bringing with Him a wonderful message of Mercy for all mankind. Saint Faustina tells us in her diary under this date:

"In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'"

Some time later, Our Lord again spoke to her:

"The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross....Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him." 

Diary, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul 

Prayer to St. Maria Faustina:

You told us that your mission would continue after your death and that you would not forget us. Our Lord also granted you a great privilege, telling you to "distribute graces as you will, to whom you will, and when you will." Relying on this, we ask your intercession for the graces we need, especially for the intentions just mentioned. Help us, above all, to trust in Jesus as you did and thus to glorify His mercy every moment of our lives. Amen. 

The Image of the Divine Mercy

The earliest element of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy revealed to St. Faustina was the Image. On February 22nd, 1931 Jesus appeared to her with rays radiating from His heart and said, 

Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus I trust in You.  I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and throughout the world. (Diary47)

I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I myself will defend it as My own glory. (Diary48)
I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature" :Jesus, I trust in You." (Diary327)
The two rays denote Blood and Water. the pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls.
These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. (Diary299)
Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush, lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace. (Diary313)
By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works. (Diary742)
In these texts the Church's doctrine on images, justification and grace are explained. First, by itself an image is merely a painting, no matter how beautiful and expressive. Yet, it can point us the mysteries of the faith and dispose us to grasp and receive what it represents, in this case the Divine Mercy. It is thus avessel, not the source, areminder, not the reality. The reality is the merciful fountain of grace flowing from the pierced Heart of Christ on the Cross, and flowing out visibly to represent the visible, that is the sacramental, signs of grace, Baptism and Eucharist, standing for all the sacraments of the Church. Thus, St. John in his first letter insists on the presence of the invisible with the visible, the Spirit with the water and the Blood.
The image also reminds us that salvation is not just by faith, but by works of charity also. It takes faith to see and believe in what the Image signifies, Divine Mercy poured out from Christ upon the Cross, but it takes mercy, love going beyond the strict requirements of justice, in order to draw down mercy on oneself. "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us" (Mt 6:12) and  "the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you" (Mt 7:2) The Image of the pierced side of Christ pouring out blood and water reminds us that the Cross, love in action, is the price of mercy. "As I have loved you so also should you love one another."  (Jn 13:34)  

Diary, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul 

The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy

Follow this link for instructions on
praying the Divine Mercy chaplet


1 comment:

  1. I love the Divine Mercy Chaplet and I love St. Faustina! Thanks for a great post!! :o)

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